The UK is behind schedule on EV charging, but it can be fixed

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CEO of Be. Asif Ghafoor EV talks about why the UK isn’t constructing enough charging points for electric vehicles and what needs to be done to meet the government’s goals by 2030 and guarantee the viability of our network of electric infrastructure.

It’s a fascinating time to work on the infrastructure for EV charging. Over the past few years, charging point installation has picked up speed; according to ZapMap, installations were 45 % higher last year than in 2022.

The zero-emission vehicles ( ZEV ) mandate still predicts that 80 % of UK car sales will be electric by 2030, despite Rishi Sunak’s environmental policy purge, so there wo n’t be any demand for new chargers.

But what exactly is the issue? Even though installation has picked up speed, there are still only about 53, 000 people chargers available. The rate of construction will need to rise significantly if the government’s goal of 300,000 people chargers by 2030 is met ( whether this is the case is a topic for another day ).

Between the number of chargers installed in London and the rest of the nation, there is a significant difference. This is coupled with a short-sighted reliance on using government funding to install” slow” lamppost chargers. For those who are unaware, an ultra-priced charger can totally charge a car in less than 30 minutes compared to the lamppost charger, which can take up to 14 hours. This means that even if we reach the magic 300,000 mark by 2030, our EV infrastructure network wo n’t be functional.

Thankfully, this need not be the end of our EV charging. We can turn this around and build infrastructure that might make the rest of the world envious, but a number of adjustments will be required.

Problems in using Local EV Infrastructure (LEVI) Fund

We need to install 110 EV chargers per day as opposed to the 40 we currently install in order to get any closer to meeting the government’s 2030 goals. The amount of legislation and misdirected public funding are the primary issues causing the holdup.

For instance, the Local EV Infrastructure ( LEVI ) Fund can provide each council with £1 million to build new electric charging infrastructure, but due to the public sector’s bureaucracy, councils must wait years to use this money before hiring consultants to inform them that it only covers about 5 % of their charging requirements. These types of programs have been put in place with the best of intentions, but they have slowed down rather than accelerated the rollout.

I think the government should let the private sector handle it and instead of getting in the way, mandate that councils have a specific number of different types of chargers. We in the private sector simply need less friction because we are aware of the typical issues that people encounter when installing chargers and have the knowledge to place the appropriate infrastructure where it is needed.

You cannot simply place EV chargers everywhere.

I’d probably have sufficient money to construct 300,000 EV chargers myself if I had a pound for every time someone planned to install charging stations in an area without adequate power! However, the UK grid is out of date, so there is only so much power available. The Government has more than sufficient power to accomplish its goal, but we must be more deliberate in where we position chargers.

We also need to pay closer attention to the source of this power. For example, if fossil fuels are used to power an EV charger, the entire economic case for the electronic transition is disproved. It’s crucial that chargers be placed in locations where you can ensure that clean energy is being used to top up EVs because, luckily, it is possible to trace exactly where your power comes from.

There are now more chargers inside the M25 than there are in the entire country, so we must finally address the stark disparity between the number of charging stations in London and other parts of the UK. We must take into account the forgotten regions if we want a network that is suitable for the job and one that does n’t fuel worries about “range anxiety.” Not just those in city centers should have quick access to EV charging in the UK.

Community Hubs for Sustainable Charging

Councils frequently choose the fast and simple option of installing “fast” lamppost chargers because they are less expensive to install. Although it’s a simple way to grab attention, it is short-sighted. Contrary to what their name might imply, these chargers are extremely sluggish, requiring one person to use them for extended periods of time. Additionally, they will need to be replaced in a few years, either because they are damaged or because car batteries have developed to the point where “fast” chargers are no longer necessary.

We should construct community hubs on public and private land with swift and ultra-rapid chargers so that drivers can charge up to 80 % in as little as 30 minutes in order to create a lasting infrastructure that works for everyone. More people will be able to easily incorporate a rapid charge into their daily routine in this way. These hubs can even generate jobs and boost the local economy by being situated close to stores or even by placing shops in these centers.

When it comes to EV charging, our perspective needs to change. We require more public-private partnerships like the ones we established with North West councils and less dark tape from power network owners. All is not lost, and the UK can have an EV network that is envied by everyone in the world if we get rid of the needless bureaucracy, pay closer attention to where we put our chargers and build community hubs where the end users participate in decision-making. Who would object to that?

Verónica Castro-Allende

With a rich background in urban technology and IoT, Veronica brings a unique blend of expertise and innovation to our platform. Her work focuses on integrating advanced engineering solutions into smart city infrastructures, emphasizing sustainable and efficient urban development. Her insightful contributions shed light on the future of urban living, blending technical prowess with practical urban applications

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